Last night during the college bible study here at the house, we had the best discussion we've ever had. We were looking at the topic of "labor/work" in light of how God established this as a holy endeavor. We have one more session in #thetruthproject series; this one was session #11. I was thinking that I have not heard a sermon about the sacredness of work very often. Usually, if you hear a sermon about work at all, it occurs around Labor Day weekend.
It occurred to me that I have allowed myself to have a tainted attitude when it comes to work. The common, worldly attitude toward work is "something I have to do in order to make money". It is viewed as a burden, instead of a privilege or an opportunity to be creative with the talents God has given me. "Is it Friday yet?" This typifies the world's attitude toward work, and it's "sloppy living".
One of the guys last night correctly pointed out that our work is so important because it is how most adults spend most of our waking hours.
So, how should we view work? Let's look at today's text: 1 Peter 1:17-22. (The Message)
In our work, as in all things, we should pattern ourselves after God. He is the original creative force which formed our universe. In Genesis we read that He worked hard for six days, and on the 7th day He rested. He commanded us (the 4th of the 10 Commandments) to do the same. "Work hard, but then rest every 7th day." (There are many who get all up in the air over which day of the week that "7th day" MUST be, but I'm not going to go into that today.)
One of the hardest things for folks, especially teens and twenty-somethings, is to decide what their life's work will be. One of my former pastors used to teach on this. In fact, he (Ike Reighard) wrote a great book called, Discovering Your NorthStar. The gist of his teaching was this: God gave each one of us talents and gifts to use for Him. He made us so that we delight in using these gifts. Our "work" should be something that uses the gifts He gave us.
I have an old friend who, as a young man, began a career selling insurance. But, he was not built for sitting in an office on the phone all day. He realized that his passion was for interacting with people, building small town community and ministering to those who need Jesus the most. So, he began to do this in his local church, as his personal ministry. Soon, he was hired by that church to be the community pastor, full-time. That church is what it is today in large part because he began to use his unique gifts from God.
My niece, too, began a career selling insurance. (I'm not meaning to pick on the insurance industry here; it has just worked out that way....) After a year, she realized that this was not the career that best fit her gifts. In the interim, she learned how to make the best pie crust I've ever tasted. She went on to find investors and to open a little pie shop. She has combined her love of making pie with the excellent business degree she received from the University of Georgia, to build a thriving business.
Then, (oh, I love this!) there was Johann Sebastian Bach, the very famous and prolific composer of the 1600s, who loved music and loved God. In fact, there is a handwritten notation at the end of all of his penned works: SDG - - - Soli Deo Gloria - - - Latin for "Glory to God alone!" George Frideric Handel (who wrote The Messiah) did the same.
I cite these as examples of those who followed their passions to use their gifts for God's glory. The pop musician Marc Anthony paraphrased Confucius when he said, "If you love what you do, then you'll never 'work' a day in your life." So true. This should be a hallmark of Christians. Bosses should exclaim to each other, "I got to hire a Christian!" We should be the best bosses and business owners and workers in the marketplace. Are we? Not if we fall captive to false worldviews, including the false worldview about work being drudgery or (worse!) a curse.
Work is honorable. The Bible is filled with verses that extol the virtues of work. Today's passage emphasizes that we should live our lives (including doing our work) with a deep consciousness of God always in the forefront. Elsewhere we are reminded, "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Why? Because our new life in Christ Jesus is priceless!
What was the price that was paid so that we could walk resplendent, in forgiveness, in freedom to love, work, play, worship, evangelize, etc.? Was it 1 million dollars? Was it 49 grams of pure gold? Was it 67,993 silver ingots? No, it was something far more costly than those: it was the priceless, precious blood of Christ that paid the price for our redemption. This "cost God plenty", to buy us back from that empty-headed life in which we formerly walked.
Christian brothers and sisters! As you work today, keep in mind what a privilege it is to serve the Lord through your work. Be an example (a good one!) to everyone in your workplace, so that they may see God at work in you, and in amazement glorify Your Heavenly Father.
Thank you for this new day, Father. I am grateful for this reminder of how very costly was the salvation that You bought for me. Knowing this compels me to glorify You in my work today, in my conversation, in my play, in my rest - - - whatever it is You bring into my sphere today. May I be deeply conscious of Your presence, in thought and deed. In Jesus' name, amen.